OK, so after a bit of a blogging break I’m back and hopefully will be gradually returning this place to where it was intended to go. Unfortunately I really haven’t had much time to develop much in the way of apps or write the few long posts I have wanted to. I hope that will change a bit now. So here are very brief versions of some posts I wanted to do, but haven’t and I may or may not do in the future.
Rounding up my journey through Rom World – Windows Phone Mango:
So on XDA-Developers, shortly after my last post on this, there was a post (back to the future) that detailed how, by installing Windows Phone 126.96.36.199 you could migrate through the versions via Zune, basically ending up with official versions of Windows Phone rather than ROM’s. I did so to end up at 7720, and was even able to get the update a few days ago. Mango is now being rolled out to existing devices and new devices like the HTC Titan will be out soon. This is also the version of Windows Phone that will ship on the first Nokia devices to support the platform, and I’m looking forward to following Nokia World later in October..
Windows Phone 7.5 (7.10.7720.68) is good, actually very good, and on my HD2 it’s also very stable (Though no mulch-touch, and occasional blue-tooth problems, but they might be my own fault). The platform is smooth, and generally fast and doesn’t seem resource intensive. Everything that was in my post using the ROM is still there, but there are now some added features, plus some I didn’t get round to looking at earlier.
Twitter integration is one, where twitter followers are added to the people hub, and you can see tweets in the What’s New area of the hub, or tweets by individuals as part of their contact card. Mentions are in the Me hub, as are things I post. No direct messaging though so you might still want a twitter app.
Search has had quite a few additions including “local scout”, “music” and “vision” searches. Local scout provides a hub of things to do locally – with maps shown in the upper part of the screen indicating the location of each thing. There are pages for , Eat+drink, See+do, shop, and highlights. Music search is basically Shazam, and vision search will scan bar codes, QR codes and text (which it can translate for you – useful on that foreign vacation).
Other odds and ends
I really like the email client an am enjoying the benefit of linked inboxes to preserve valuable home screen space. E-Mails now support threading for conversations which is nice. Visual Voice-mail works well, and is a easy to use, but doesn’t activate the proximity sensor so I found myself pausing messages with my cheek as I listened to them. Multitasking is good, but having to back through every web page you opened to close the web browser is seriously clunky. For the majority of other apps, the multitasking UI is fine however, but a method to directly close apps is sorely missing.
Multitasking and Visual Voicemail are among the few updates that don’t fully cut it, though far from the worst offender, which has to go to custom ringtones – but really how hard can it be to get a mp3 as my ringtone. The method of doing custom ringtones is horrible:
- On your PC in Zune add a 40 second track (obviously most of us have a tool for cutting our favorite mp3’s down to 40 seconds, right)
- Change the genre to ringtone.
- Sync with the phone
- Pick the ringtone from the list
A full list of Metro updates is available at What’s new in Windows Phone 7.5.
From a developer point of view, there is no API to create “MyService” and have that service integrate in to the appropriate hub. Hopefully Microsoft will open this up. I’ll post more on the developer experience later.
In general, Windows Phone 7 is visually appealing and the live tiles do their job for glance and go reasonably well. It does still lack a lot of flexibility in terms of customization and the rigid size of the live tiles. Although I like widgets really, and this will come out in a future post, Windows Phone is a very nice platform to use daily and I enjoyed using it much more than Android.
Nokia made the right decision between the platforms in my opinion, and I have no doubt that at some point in the future, I will pay for a Nokia Windows Phone, though I’m not sure it will be my next device.